ishop Richard welcomes signs of growth in latest church figures

The Bishop of Warrington, the Right Revd Richard Blackburn, has welcomed the latest figures on national church attendance published this week.

The Bishop of Warrington, the Right Revd Richard Blackburn has welcomed the latest figures on national church attendance published this week. The figures show that churches in the Diocese of Liverpool have bucked the national trend by recording a small increase in weekly attendance rates between 2009 and 2010.

Bishop Richard said,"While not dramatic, these figures are an encouragement and show the seeds of growth are starting to sprout across our diocese. The challenge to our churches, congregation and clergy is to nurture those seeds in the years ahead."

"The figures show that statistics support my impression that parishes and deaneries have really grasped the challenge of the Bishop's Growth Agenda. The stories Bishop James and I heard as we toured deaneries last year gave a picture that our diocese is taking seriously the Great Commission. These figures show that their efforts are bearing fruit."

The Liverpool figures show a 2% rise in average weekly attendance from 27,100 to 27,800. They show the impact our emphasis on developing mixed economy church, responsive to the needs and pressures of today's culture, has had. They are set against the maintenance of average Sunday attendance at 22,800.

Liverpool is at the forefront of developing new models of church and equipping and empowering leaders with the skills and vision to develop the new alongside the traditional. Our diocese has 100 fresh expressions of church ranging from café churches to messy church. These recognise that more frequently people are looking for networks of people with similar interests rather than finding a church in their neighbourhood.

Linda Jones, Head of Church Growth said, "The Diocese of Liverpool has an international reputation for developing new models of church and blending them successfully with the strong traditional church. We believe this approach helps us to see what God is doing in our context and in our networks and join in in the best way possible."”

"This does not spell the end for traditional Sunday worship. The success of initiatives such as Back to Church Sunday, the rise in cathedral worship, and renewed interest in Christmas services show that people are still interested in church."

Bishop James issued a challenge to the Diocese of Liverpool in 2009 compelling churches to grow in number; love of God; and love for their communities. This has become known as the Bishop's Growth Agenda. This encourages churches to consider what best works in their local context.

Bishop Richard said, "The signs of growth are welcoming. It reflects the continued interest that people in this Christian country are showing in spiritual matters. My prayer is that we continue to work with the Spirit to help more people get to know Christ."